Thursday, March 27, 2014

Say what?

Sexy wolf men are not so sexy in Book 2 as they were in Book 1. But it had me turning the pages. There is a third book listed in Goodreads but without cover art and I don't see it on Amazon. Curious. Selfishly, I hope they'll complete the arc.

Had a bout of miscommunication today. Once at work which required me to go hat-in-hand to my manager and request her diplomatic help. That seems to have been smoothed over. Then in email with the gifted teacher who was requesting a meeting. I didn't think we needed to meet because I thought he was talking about my other child. He straightened that out and we're on for Bun's review. I hope this doesn't come in 3s. Or that the third miscommunication is really funny. That would be worth it.

Posting a recipe because the only place I can find this is on a junky ISP website. (Tho' it brings back fond memories, I used to have free email with them.) I think the corn in the batter is optional. I like green onions best but a little cooked white onion is okay. I made these for lunch on Tuesday using chard instead of kale. I like to use the word 'fritter' when I make savory fried dealies like these for the family. My kids, especially the youngest, have a problem re-directing their expectations if they hear 'pancake'.

Corn Kale Skillet Cakes, adapted from Witch in the Kitchen by Cait Johnson

INGREDIENTS
1 cup flour
1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn
2 cups finely chopped, firmly packed kale
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil
2 cups milk
2 green onions, diced  [or 1/2 cup minced onion, saute before adding to batter]
Butter or oil for frying
1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, salt, corn, green onion and kale.
2. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs, melted butter or oil, and milk to combine. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix briefly.
3. Heat butter or oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion, if using, and saute until golden.
4. Add the sautéed onion to the batter, mix again, then drop about 1/4 cup batter per cake into the hot skillet, adding more oil or butter as needed to keep cakes from sticking. Cook until cakes begin to bubble, about 3 minutes, then flip and cook until the other side is golden, 1 or 2 minutes longer. Serve warm.
Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shied away

I'm treating myself like a spooked animal right now. Trying to move slowly and take advantage of all the helpful supports I can find. I came home from work last Friday under a black cloud and didn't get all the way out from under until Monday morning. Last week I was wrangling confidentiality issues and HR actions and a tool that did not work as expected. It was diplomatically dicey. My manager was out of town and so I was left feeling like I needed to go to confession or argue with imaginary high muckety mucks that my actions had all been logical and correct. Or at least well-intentioned and constructive. Nod said "you're vibrating" and I was, all weekend, with spots of feeling like a failure generally and specifically. It was sunny, there was a surprise snow dusting Sunday morning. Nod and I went for an anniversary bike ride that was lovely. There was yoga and swimming and sad basketball game watching. But I couldn't shake that dread entirely. Monday my manager was back and it was clear that no blowback was coming my way so I could settle those fears. I called Nod while walking the dog in the snow yesterday to tell him the good news. Not being fired! It's a wonderful day! (It was just a little wet March snow, could easily have been rain, it was very pretty coming down.)

I need to get back in communication with far flung friends and that sounds really hard, I failed at it all last week. Danish, if you're reading, big congrats on your new job and I am sorry that the Baker has been battling the hbp. I have been thinking of you and will call/email/text/mail boxtops or something soon. I need to buy that plane ticket and email/talk with the college friends about lodging.

Speaking of lodging and relief, on Friday Nod made us a reservation for a place to stay in Crete! Such good news. Now he's looking at renting a car and reports that they all seem to be stick shift. We both drive stick but I know scads of Americans who don't. I wonder if Euro car sales are still majority standard transmission?

I will continue to keep my self-talk soothing and warm. Sometime in the future I'll feel resilient. In the good news column, I have the next sexy wolf novel to keep me company.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Patted

Bun biked in the St. Patrick's Day parade with her girl scout troop. This entailed me taking off work to retrieve her at the end of the parade and get her home again. I tried saddling Kat with this responsibility but it wasn't something she was happy about and work didn't mind me leaving and so I went to the parade even though I had no beer at all. I found Bun and after she watched half an hour more we made our way back home. It was mostly sunny and even so I really had no patience for this lollygagging hangout of a dumb parade.

It's spring break week for the girls. Kat's got a cat sitting gig and I have had her put the reminders on her phone so I don't have to remind her. Otherwise I was going to collect half the proceeds. Feeding cats isn't hard. Remembering is the hard part. We don't have any travel planned but I think I'll take them out for breakfast one morning and I'm going to leave early Wednesday and take them roller skating.

The bonfire Saturday night for Nod's birthday party was fun. We had about 90 minutes before the rain started and I didn't even mind the rain until I got quite soaked. There was thunder and lightning and the whole show. Nod got to tell stories and sing songs and seemed very pleased. Gen did the public relations part and that was very effective.

I just read that urine in a chlorinated pool reacts chemically to create gases that can harm our lungs. Aiee.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Deviled

Deviled eggs. No one but me is interested in eating them. Good thing I only made 6 eggs. I used plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise because I am a pleasure shunning ascetic. (Or I object to buying mayonnaise when I only ever use it for making deviled eggs or chicken salad and it lives in the fridge for a year.) Consequently they do lack unctuousness but I got the salty / tangy level just right. I will eat them all! Mwahahahaha!

Men's college basketball, conference championship series. It was a squeaker of a game that KU won in overtime yesterday afternoon. I followed the twitter feed and the muted cheering I could hear coming through the wall. I hope they're not all that close but it gave me happy feelings. They play again tonight.

Girl scouts insignia. I ordered the patches and attached them to Bun's Girl Scouts sash. It feels like a major accomplishment, like climbing a mountain and returning perhaps. Bun is insufficiently impressed. I had been feeling quite guilty about not doing it so I suppose getting rid of that feeling is my reward.

Time to think about the Art Car parade... Maybe I should take a picture of the front of our car(s) to figure out how to exaggerate the face aspect.

Perfect expression of the practice of daylight savings time here in the US from Zhoen:
"the idea that you can cut the end off one end of a blanket, sew it on the other end, and you have a longer blanket"

I like this comment on Crooked Timber about the various dancing videos for the "Happy" song by Pharrell (which I remind myself is pronounced fuh-RELL, not feral):
"It achieves that highest accomplishment of art, making the human race appear lovable."
That is a great art goal. I have to think about that for a while.



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Keep dancing

Three daunting (only to me) challenges this week: all completed! It feels a little like a video game, somehow getting through all the levels where you've died before. Nod had a birthday and will have some more on Saturday. Bun's girl scout troop got their snacks. I went to parent/teacher conferences with Kat. I responded to several urgent emails. I made a to do list and got through some items. I jumped over the bad guys' swinging swords and made it past the slamming gate.

It is my turn to check out movies from the library and never watch them and pay late fees on them. Nod went through a spate of that last fall. I have 42, The Sting and School of Rock out. We are 2/3 through The Sting and it feels like we'll never get to the end of it. 42 isn't going to get watched but I haven't been able to get it returned either so that clinking is the sound of my silver coins going into the fees jar. Still hoping School of Rock will happen.

Kat has accepted a high maintenance* cat sitting job for the next ten days. (Mostly high-maintenance due to the owner but there are 2 elderly cats and 1 young punk cat and some juggling required.) This is a good thing as she is off school for that long. Plus money. All the teachers I spoke with last night said she was productive and a good student. One requested less chatting (this was not unexpected). Kat came with me to the 'drop-in' sessions because I didn't want to try and find all those people on my own. We spoke with 3 teachers she likes and 2 she doesn't like. I said it was important to be civil and she insisted that she *is* civil but still doesn't like them. Okay. We went to the music room and played some percussion instruments after the dutiful portion of the event. Fun! They have converted the original gym to be their band and orchestra rooms. The locker rooms are now large instrument lockers. I like being in the band room. I always did like hanging out with the band fags.

40% relieved that hard part of week is done
12% happy to see the blue sky and sunlight
15% needing to find a new goal
7% pudgy
4% proud of having showered, dressed in clothes I like
10% still hungry
12% travel negotiation stressed

I'd like to get the small guitar strung, maybe we can get it dropped off at the music store this weekend. Nod says he'll work through a kid's beginner book with Bun this spring/summer. I am attempting to entertain banjo-y thoughts. I'd like to make a stab at it before I decide to sell it.



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Saved

Broccoli fritters. Too much trouble I think, but Nod liked them. On to roasting!
I might have to make Quinoa with spinach, artichoke hearts and tomatoes:  recipe. I bought a can of artichoke hearts last night to be prepared. This quickie cheater spinach lasagne was a big hit last night. Except with Bun of course. Some day that girl will make all her own food and we'll all be happy.

Daylight savings is just as delightful as I expected. My goal is to make it through the week alive and with most of my obligations executed. I have parent/teacher conferences for Kat, girl scouts snack for Bun, and Nod's birthday (3/11) to contend with. Oh and for myself, the start of my period. Lots of chances to excel!

If you're like me you'll enjoy reading this chatty retelling of Margery Kempe's life. She was an English Christian visionary born 1373 who dictated her autobiography (she did not read/write). Scroll down the metafilter comments for the quick version of how ping pong co-starred in the rediscovery of her book. (Full version, more dry and scholarly.)

How about some sleeping art?

Dreaming Girl / Treegirl from Mina Braun


 And her delightful Red Riding Hood with 8 wolves and 2 birds:  Sleep Tight





Friday, March 7, 2014

Morning Minutiae

Up at 5am ish careful not to tip the cat off the end of our bed. After peeing, back to bed, no Nod, luxurious warm spot, out like a light. 

6:04am clock radio comes on. Swish my mouth out and take an antibiotic. Prop up the pillows and look at my Sunday NYT crossword puzzle book. 

6:40am give up on the idea that I'm going to do any exercise. Select clothes and decide how much I'm going to wash (minimum = face). Deodorant, clothes, wash face. Remember not to get Kat up because the middle schoolers are off today, get Bun up and unzip the dog crate to RELEASE THE HOUND! I love saying that. 

6:58am Snickers comes down the stairs with a merry scuttle of paws. Nod is at the computer and even from the back I can tell he's in better shape than last night (toothache). I let the dog out to pee. Get the report on Nod's night, watch him put a cup of yesterday's coffee in the microwave and shudder. Make a fresh pot of coffee. Call up the stairs since I see no Bun descending nor hear anything indicating progress. Feed animals.

7:12am Bun and I have cereal. I have coffee. Bun is cold, gets a jacket. She is extra sleepy this morning. 

7:25am I brush out Bun's hair since it has been 24 hours since the last brushing and if she does it it will take a year. I braid it and she puts her polar bear hat back on. Let the dog out to poop. Pick up poop, leave bag on step.

7:45am Teeth brushed and coats on, we leave the house. I ask Bun to take the dog poop to the dumpster. She does but enthusiasm is lacking. I drop Bun at elementary school and hie me to work. 


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What we believe we disbelieve

Liked this article about W.H. Auden. I am pondering this description of his Christianity. I did not know that he came back to the Anglican church in later age.

Auden’s sense of his divided motives was inseparable from his idiosyncratic Christianity. He had no literal belief in miracles or deities and thought that all religious statements about God must be false in a literal sense but might be true in metaphoric ones. He felt himself commanded to an absolute obligation—which he knew he could never fulfill—to love his neighbor as himself, and he alluded to that commandment in a late haiku: “He has never seen God/but, once or twice, he believes/he has heard Him.” He took communion every Sunday and valued ancient liturgy, not for its magic or beauty, but because its timeless language and ritual was a “link between the dead and the unborn,” a stay against the complacent egoism that favors whatever is contemporary with ourselves. The book he wrote while returning in 1940 to the Anglican Communion of his childhood was titled The Double Man. It had an epigraph from Montaigne: “We are, I know not how, double in ourselves, so that what we believe we disbelieve, and cannot rid ourselves of what we condemn.” He felt obliged to reveal to his neighbor what he condemned in himself.

I like the idea of religion as a connection to the past, the words symbols and rituals changed a bit and handed down. It works for me on a metaphoric basis too. I won't be going to get ashed today because I have no current need to grieve. But I am glad it's going on. The wheel of the church calendar is a comforting presence to me.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Gullet

Marching on with taking antibiotics for my skin. The bit to the left of my mouth has a way to go before it's clear. The heartburn side effect feeling has faded (yay!) and now I am left with just hunger. Even though I have a snack at 10:30a I get quite mouth wateringly hungry by noon. Large amounts of my waking thoughts are taken up by food and food preparation. Had a steak and avocado sandwich yesterday that made my toes curl. I'll be broiling eggplant tonight and prepping the potatoes for more of the Indian spiced bake.

I realized over lunch yesterday that I had put some (particularly delicious frittata) leftovers in a container for Kat's lunch but then she had gone to school without assembling a lunch. It was an after-school rehearsal day so I knew she would be hungry and sad if she had no after-school food. I added a small apple, a cute note, and a granola bar to the leftovers and dropped the snack bag off at the front office for Kat. Then I headed smugly back to work and was almost there when I realized that I didn't have my cell phone. I wonder if a glowing Google Glass to-do list in my peripheral vision would help me remember things or if I would tune that out after ten minutes of awe. #1 daughter appreciated my efforts and had eaten everything by the time I picked her up at 5:10.

I am frustrated that I cannot find the link to the frittata recipe. It was kale, cremini mushrooms and onions over thin slices of ciabatta bread with grated cheddar cheese. Bread, vegs, cheese, bread, vegs, cheese, bread, cheese and the eggs and milk poured over. Very good on a snowy day. Nod liked it even though mushrooms. He does not want to be confronted with a significant hunk of a mushroom. But he seems to be fine with mushrooms in things as long as they are cut small enough to disappear into the firmament.

Elizabeth Bear's always worthwhile tumblr has led me to this delightful mini interview with the writer Douglas Coupland. I don't agree with everything but I love his grumpy conviction. And this is the best thing I've read all week:  "I would die on a battlefield for Lucy Liu."


Monday, March 3, 2014

Snow Potatoes

Snow event was minimal and we are all at work/school today. I did go out when the largest snowflakes were flying yesterday morning. It was beautiful. Our high was 8 F. Too bitter cold to enjoy the outside for long.

When it's that cold you might as well bake potatoes. Having the oven on for most of an hour warms the house and maybe baking potatoes is better than baking cookies? Here's a recipe with lots of ingredients that is worth the trouble. The Bon Appetit original is for twice baked potatoes that are dipped in spiced yogurt and sesame seeds. I've done it and it's delicious but it has many steps, many messy steps. I recommend this streamlined version in a pan. It was so good at last night's potluck I'm going to make it again this week.

Indian Spiced Potatoes with Yogurt Sesame Crust

Potatoes:
3 large Russet potatoes (each about 1#) scrubbed [I used 4 small and 1 medium]
4 oz. grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 T butter, melted
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 serrano chile, seeded, minced (half is good)
1 T sesame seeds

Yogurt spice paste:
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 t fresh ginger root, grated
2 t paprika
1 t salt
1 t ground coriander
½ t ground cumin
½ cup plain yogurt
4 t grapeseed or canola oil
2 t fresh lemon juice
Sesame seeds

1.      Bake potatoes. Let cool.
2.      Take off papery outer peels.
3.      Mash with next 6 ingredients (top section)
4.      Spread in square baking dish
5.      Make yogurt spice paste, spread on top of potatoes
6.      Oven 350
7.      Sprinkle with sesame seeds

8.      Bake 40 minutes until toasty, no longer wet

Link to metafilter choral group doing pop song interp.  http://www.metafilter.com/137080/Arguably-the-Coolest-High-School-Chorus-in-the-World

Post Oscar goodness. Read Glenn's feelings about all the Oscar best picture winners as he spends all day cooking. My favorite bit so far:
53: The Sound of Music
I played Captain Von Trapp in Seltzer School’s 1972 production of this musical, and Max Detweiler in Jefferson Township High School’s 1977 production of same. I love this movie. If you have a Sound of Music problem I feel bad for you, son. I’ve got 80-something Oscar problems but The Sound of Music ain’t one.